Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dealing with Disruptive Players

Whatever the type of environment that a game administrator wishes to create on their game be it RP (roleplay) enforced to a PK (player killing) game, it is important to protect it. If you are building a nice sand castle, the last thing you want is some bratty kid to come along and kick it down. Unfortunately there will always be individuals that take joy out of destroying what is valuable to others. A game admin can not completely keep all disruptive players from a game, but there are ways to minimize their impact.

Some games require that each potential player gets evaluated before they are allowed on the game. While this can definitely can keep more bad players from the game, it also just keeps players from the game period. Not many have the patience or desire to jump through a bunch of hoops for a game they may or may not enjoy playing. I wouldn't suggest this method if you want a larger and active player base.

One of the most effective ways to minimize the impact of a trouble player is to have a quick and easy way to isolate them from the rest of the players. If the game has public channels then there needs to be some coded mechanism that prohibits disruptive individuals from speaking on them. It needs to be something that can be done swiftly. It isn't pleasant for anyone to have to deal with a string of profanities or insults spammed over and over again.

Another important way to isolate disruptive players is to have a holding area that they are transferred quickly. It should be a room that they can not leave without being allowed. This would be a spot where a staff member could speak to the individual to see if some resolution can be reached.

A game administrator can not be around all the time. There needs to be a mechanism for other trusted individuals to isolate a trouble player from the player base. There should be enough people to cover this duty 24/7. I can remember once when I was a player helper a new MUD when the game admin went on vacation for the weekend. A disruptive player came on the game and started spamming every channel he could. The game admin had not coded any way for us to isolate the offending player so the whole game was held hostage by a moron until he got tired and quit. Thankfully the game admin coded a way for us to keep people from speaking on channels if we needed and we never had the same problem again.

Every game has a way to nuke, dust, or destroy a character. I've noticed from years of experience that for some people any attention is good attention. Many people that cause problems are waiting for a pay off. My best advice is to always stay calm when dealing with trouble players and give them as little attention as possible. The standard way that we deal with obvious troublemakers on the game I am a staff member on is to isolate the player and ignore him. We've found that if we destroy trouble characters they will often come back again and again. But if you give them no attention and you don't allow them to make you angry suddenly their little disruptive game doesn't become as fun for them and they give up.

With some planning and coding, you can easily keep trouble players from being incredibly disruptive.

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